From The New York Shitty Inbox: Canceled

Since I wrote this post there has been a great deal of commentary and speculation about Zip112, better known as Zip Hostel. E.g.; is it legal? Well, I have word from someone whose sister was going to stay there this upcoming weekend that it has been shut down. In fact, it would appear almost the entire building has been vacated. T writes:

…I actually got hold of the owner of Zip112 on Monday evening and he assured me everything was OK with them (that they were legal etc.).  Now my sister has had an email saying the whole building is getting shut down and canceling all reservations.

So whether they are legal or not, they are closed!

Thanks for the advice – my sister has had to forsake Brooklyn and get a bed in a hostel in the East Village instead.  Oh well!

On a lark, Monday afternoon I searched for “vacation rentals” in Greenpoint on Craigslist. What I found was sobering.

Presenting the Dobbin Street Lofts.

As you can see, they’re doing brisk business. Who knew April Fool’s Day was a U.S. holiday? I thought that stopped after George W. Bush left office. But I digress.

Here is a photo of said “loft”. And here is what I found on the Department of Buildings web site.

No Certificate of Occupancy


Same song, different verse. This is not to suggest there isn’t humor to be found here. There is.

239 Banker Street (AKA: The Sweater Factory Lofts), a “hotel” illegally pressed into service as living space, is clearly visible in the background of their photo showcasing the roof deck of their illegal hostel. Nice.

Miss Heather

P.S.: For more reading/commentary about the debacle at 112 North 6 Street I strongly recommend you read Brooklyn 11211’s follow-up post.


8 Comments on From The New York Shitty Inbox: Canceled

  1. d on Wed, 31st Mar 2010 11:38 am
  2. I feel a sense of joy whenever one of these gets shut down. While I feel bad for the people that are turned out, the people who put these illegal, unsafe hostels together in our neighborhood make me so angry. How greedy can you get??

  3. neighborhood threat on Wed, 31st Mar 2010 11:48 am
  4. Even when I was a stupid 20 year old kid, I understood that being in a place that I couldn’t easily get out of was dangerous, whether it was a loft space or a rock club. Why are people blaming the city?

  5. ipfreely on Wed, 31st Mar 2010 6:15 pm
  6. Hey Miss Heather,

    Had realtors show several buildings, which upon further research, don’t have CofOs. Are there exemptions for some buildings (e.g. smaller residences with 2 units)? Can realtors show/advertise units without CofO? There isn’t much info on the web…

  7. missheather on Wed, 31st Mar 2010 6:30 pm
  8. Now THAT is one helluva question, ipfreely. One that will take a lot of research (seriously).

    In my experience (as limited as it is) I am noticing a lot of these illegal hotels do not have C of Os. 184 Eagle Street (AKA: the Luxe Guesthouse) didn’t. 112 North 6 Street didn’t. And it would appear 117 Dobbin doesn’t as well. There is a part of me that wonders if this is by design. You see, in the case of 184 Eagle Street they couldn’t be directly charged for illegally operating a hotel because there was no C of O to begin with. In essence, by breaking one law they are exonerated (if that is the best term for it) for breaking another. Nice, eh?

    The funny thing about 117 Dobbin Street is they COULD legally operate a hotel there. Zoning permits this. They just didn’t bother to do it legally. OH, I should mention that I ran this by someone on CB1 first. Yup. Due diligence.

  9. dobbinstudios on Fri, 2nd Apr 2010 6:27 pm
  10. Re: 117 Dobbin

    As long-term Greenpointers we are of course aware of your blog; we frequently smile at your “only in Greenpoint” perspective and photographs, and we’ve often cheered you on in fighting what we consider a good fight — bringing attention to shady goings-on as well as supporting those who deserve it.

    Imagine our surprise, then, to see ourselves cast as baddies, especially when paired with incorrect information!

    The DOB website, while certainly a useful tool, is not fool-proof. There are any number of property listings which don’t include all pertinent information, including that for 117 Dobbin. While the website states that there is no C of O available, this does not mean that no C of O exists. We in fact have a copy of it on-hand, and never would have leased the premises had there been no C of O, since from the very beginning our intention was to subdivide the building into multiple rental spaces. Our C of O calls for a maximum occupancy of 120 persons (our actual occupancy level remains much lower), and it confirms that 117 Dobbin is a property zoned for commercial use.

    Further, to insinuate that the building is unsafe is not only wrong but reckless. We are fully up to code in every sense, including proper means of egress, lighted signage, fire-rated doors & corridors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, among other things, and most importantly, a fully functional and regularly maintained sprinkler system. We cut no corners in our renovation of this building, which we love and aim to safeguard, and we crossed every T and dotted every I in getting every aspect inspected and certified. Indeed, with a huge roof space and gorgeous views of the city it did pain us somewhat to adhere to the fire code that only 20% of the roof structure could be decked, but adhere to it we did — because we never wanted there to be any question about the safety of our building.

    Given the large number of unsafe building projects in the city, we don’t blame you for being skeptical about any one of them in particular, but we kindly ask that you revise your posting concerning 117 Dobbin, or at least allow us the opportunity to post this response in the comments section. And to illustrate that there are no hard feelings, and to quell any further doubts or questions you might have, you are of course most cordially invited to visit for yourself.

    Dobbin Studios

  11. missheather on Fri, 2nd Apr 2010 6:43 pm
  12. Duly approved, 117 Dobbin! Thank you for being civil in your comment. I am ALL FOR open dialogue. In fact, I am happy my site can be a forum for this.

    Methinks I’d like to see your facilities and C of O firsthand. Perhaps then we can discuss the townhouse? As you said, I am a skeptic. There are simply too many fly-by-night arrangements and downright DANGEROUS “hostels” here NOT to be a skeptic/cynic. My email address is on the “tips” page. Let’s talk.

  13. Petr on Mon, 5th Apr 2010 4:20 pm
  14. If Dobbin Studios has a commercial certificate of occupancy, then using the building for residential purposes (ie, people living there) is clearly illegal. Having the building fireproofed has nothing to do with using the building illegally.

    If you are using the building for residential use and your tenants find out that you have a commercial (ie, non-residential) C of O, then you are opening yourself up to a lot of liability. Building owners all over the city attempt these illegal conversions and eventually run into legal problems. Your tenants, if they decided to stop paying rent, would be eligible for a minimum of 9 months of free rent plus around $20,000 to $30,000 in a buy-out fee (not to mention the incredible lawyer fees you would have to shell out). Check out this article –

    If you are using the building for transient use (as either a hotel, hostel, extended stay hotel, or dormitory), then you must have a certificate of occupancy that specifically says so (it would need to be an H1, H2, H8, or H9, not a C1 or whatever you have now). Using the building for any of those uses is 100% illegal (although you’re probably opening yourself up to less liability since transient guests probably aren’t going to call the DOB on you).

    Either way, continuing to use the building for residential or transient residential use is NOT legal by any means. You should hope that your tenants or the DOB don’t catch wind of your C of O situation, otherwise you are opening yourself up to a lot of legal liability.

  15. cooketristan on Sat, 8th May 2010 12:40 am
  16. I actually stayed here with my wife for about one week in April.

    I’ve got to say – code or not – the apartments/loft was really great. The ceilings were really high, the rooftop amazing (and really, you can use the part that isn’t decked) and generally stylish and spacious. Like with most of craigslist type things there were a couple negatives… Nothing major. Thing like being asked to clean the place but not having cleaning products provided. For safety there were fire doors and sprinklers as advertised but think there was only 1 way of the place. (And if you care about it, the stairwell always smelt like weed).

    I’d be concerned as a permanent resident… but for us it was great.

    Basically, for me, if they don’t have the right code then they should get it. Is it really that hard?

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